Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington announced a potential $3.1 billion contract to Huntington Ingalls on Thursday to build the yet-unnamed LHA 8 amphibious assault ship, which will be based on the America-class amphibious assault ships (LHA 6).
Unlike the America-class big-deck amphibs, however, the new LHA 8 surface warship will include a welldeck to enable the vessel to deploy landing craft. The America is primarily for aviation, while the new LHA 8 will have extensive aviation facilities, but also will be able to deploy Marine Corps landing craft toward assault beaches.
Navy leaders decided to include the welldeck on LHA 8 because Marine Corps land vehicles are becoming too heavy to transport by helicopter, and make the welldeck essential. Huntington Ingalls designers must make extensive changes to the America-class hull to include the welldeck.
The America-class amphibious assault ship is 844 feet long, 106 feet wide, and displaces 45,693 tons of water. It has two gas turbine engines and two shafts to reach a top speed of 20 knots and has a complement of 65 officers, 994 enlisted sailors, and 1,687 Marines.
The ship's sensors and processing systems include the AN/SPQ-9B fire-control radar and AN/SPS-48E air search radar. It has the AN/SLQ-32B(V)2 electronic warfare (EW) system, as well as EW decoys, missiles, deck Gatling guns, and machine guns.
Among the aircraft the aircraft can carry are the AV-8B Harrier II jump jet; F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter; MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor; CH-53E Super Stallion or CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters; UH-1Y Venom utility helicopter; AH-1Z Viper helicopter gunship; and MH-60S Knighthawk anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter. The LHA 8 ship will have a large flight deck on top, a hangar deck inside, and a welldeck below.
The contract announced Thursday from Naval Sea Systems Command is for $272.5 million, and has options that could increase its value to $3.1 billion. The contract is for the planning, advanced engineering, and procurement of long lead time materials for LHA 8.
Long-lead items involve system components that require the longest time to build, which could delay overall system production if money isn't allocated for production early in the process.
On this contract Huntington Ingalls will do the work in Pascagoula, Miss.; Beloit, Wis.; Milwaukee; Santa Fe Springs, Calif.; York, Pittsburgh, and Irvine, Pa.; Brunswick, Ga.; and other locations, and should be finished by June 2017.
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